Magnetic Fields debuts a new festival experience in Rajasthan

The folks behind boutique music festival Magnetic Fields, held annually at Alsisar Mahal, are debuting a new event this March. Magnetic Fields Nomads will feature sundowners, wellness workshops, specially crafted culinary experiences and curated activities at the palatial Nahargarh Ranthambore, near Ranthambore National Park.

Like most events in 2020, popular boutique music festival Magnetic Fields had to skip its annual edition at Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan. This year, the organizers are back with Magnetic Fields Nomads, a new festival that will focus on wellness, food and curated experiences. “This event is our chance to put emphasis on the other experiences that we offer at Alsisar. That, hand in hand with the year everyone has had, made sense to put it together,” says Munbir Chawla, co-founder of Delhi-based events company Wild City.

The three-day, open-air festival will host 400 attendees at Nahargarh Ranthambore, a 20-acre property also owned by Alsisar Hotels and located near Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, from March 19-21. The event encourages a slow, meandering approach with vinyl sessions by co-founder DJ MoCity; DJ, filmmaker and founder of YouTube channel My Analog Journal, Zag Erlat,; and Indian selector Digging in India providing the soundtrack to your day. Come sundown, Sindhi Curry, Kaleekarma and Girls Night Out will take over with DJ sets amid a canopy of trees. 

The travelling theatre The Peacock Club will host live performances by Delhi-based Peter Cat Recording Co; an exclusive debut show from pianist Sahil Vasudeva titled Qinara Modulated Piano; and lo-fi experimental sets by Begum. Also on the line-up are singer-songwriter Shantanu Pandit; Gauley Bhai, who perform in Nepalese; Mumbai-based singer and producer Noni-Mouse; and singer-songwriter Karshn.

Magnetic Fields Nomads will make its debut at the palatial Nahargarh Ranthambore in Rajasthan. (Photo: Courtesy Nahargarh Ranthambore)

Wellness seekers can participate in a series of weekend workshops on various modalities such as Kundalini yoga, sleep meditation, crystal therapy, somatic movement therapy, mudra meditation and biohacking. There’s even a dedicated bar with handcrafted drinks made using seasonal fruits and herbs and brewed in accordance with Ayurveda recipes, curated by wellness brand Antidote and Bhu Kombucha. Another highlight of Nomads is its food with curated, limited seating meals by Jatin Mallick, chef and co-founder at global contemporary cuisine restaurant Tres, and sustainability advocate and Fig & Maple founder and chef Radhika Khandelwal, who is known for her root-to-shoot cooking.

Curated food and wellness experiences will be the focus at the festival. (Photo: Courtesy Magnetic Fields Nomads)

“We’re not the first event to start post-COVID but we may be the biggest brand to have an event post-COVID,” says Chawla. “We think we’re being pretty responsible in the way we’re doing it,” he adds. Magnetic Fields Nomads will be completely residential with no day passes available. Attendees are advised not to leave the premises for the duration of the event. The festival website features a comprehensive list of COVID-protocols that include a mandatory RT-PCR test that must be taken up to 48 hours prior to checking in, sanitization of all rooms, luggage and touchpoints in public areas, and regular temperature readings at locations across the venue. 

Envisioning an on-ground event in a post-COVID world brought on new logistical challenges, says Chawla. “There were a lot of challenges like what is the correct protocol to put in place in terms of testing, what to do on ground with sanitization, if somebody has symptoms or a temperature then what to do. And this is all specific to different states—what protocols are in place in Delhi to what protocols are in place in Rajasthan—and these are constantly evolving, constantly changing. So everything becomes that much more challenging. Everything from working with vendors, flying in people, to booking flights, everything becomes more complicated. But the scale of this event is a little smaller so it’s manageable and that was our intention here.”  

Delhi-based Peter Cat Recording Co are among the line-up for Magnetic Fields Nomads. (Photo: Nitish Kanjilal)

However, while organisers are still figuring out the road ahead, Chawla says they will “learn to adapt”. “I think it’s going to be one step back, two steps forward. In many ways, people have already had that step back. But in terms of the economics of having testing facilities and in terms of artists not wanting to be in a full car and wanting to have an extra empty seat beside them on an airline, things like that are question marks.” Confident of the industry’s ability to innovate, he says solutions to safely conduct on-ground events developed in the coming years will “become standard”. 

Asked if COVID-vaccine passports will play a role in determining who can access events in the future, Chawla says it’s too early to tell. He adds that testing will likely play a larger role, even as more people get inoculated, since none of the vaccines being rolled out globally have proven to be a 100 per cent effective in preventing COVID. “I think it will change the way people will think about entry into events. However, personally I would never want to tell people to have or not have the vaccine; that’s completely their own prerogative and I don’t think it’s fair to only allow entry into an event based on whether or not you’ve had a vaccine,” he says.

After taking a beating owing to lockdown and travel restrictions in 2020, the events industry has a long way to go to witness a complete revival. However, organisers and attendees are keen to move forward, opines Chawla. “People are happy to see that the change is happening and 2020-2021 is coming to an end and a new era begins. People are also hungry for content across the world. They’ve had a very tough year and are ready to work around whatever needs to be done to bring a bit of positivity back into their lives,” he adds optimistically.

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